Now that the second season “Supergirl” is in it’s final stretch, it’s time to think about next season. “Supergirl” was renewed back in January, so fans won’t have to wait on baited breath this time. However, the show will need a serious overhaul if it’s going to get back on track. This season’s ratings have taken quite the hit since the switch to the CW. “Supergirl” has averaged about 0.78 points in the 18-49 demographic this season, with around 2.509 million viewers per episode. This is in comparison with last season’s average of 1.68 points in the same demographic with around 7.68 million viewers per episode.
The season’s not done, but those numbers are concerning. Here’s some ways the writer’s room can improve next time around.
WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Season 2 of “Supergirl.”
15. A FRESH COSTUME
Fashion may may not be Kara’s specialty, but it’s time for a change. Even Barry and Oliver got improvements to their respective suits by their second season. Kara’s costume may have been a welcome callback to older incarnations of the character, but she still looks like she’s wearing a cheerleader skirt. A pleather cheerleader skirt at that.
Kara’s journey should be focusing on how she matures as a hero, and a great way to show that is by making an overhaul to her uniform. The New 52 costume has it’s issues, but the cape makes the entire ensemble look more official and militaristic. If she’s going to become Earth’s conduit to other planets, it wouldn’t hurt to look a little more formal. Redesign that suit, cover her legs and replace the plate on her abdomen with a belt, and Kara will look like she’s ready to defend the Earth or meet the President. Furthermore, a costume change would also go a long way to giving her a different image from Superman, which would be appropriate.
14. MAKE KARA A LEADER
One thing season two did well was give Kara a protege in Mon-El. The fact that it was more to develop Mon-El as a character while flatlining Kara’s story is the problem. If Kara is going to grow into a leader, she’s got to rise up the ranks. She already works within the DEO, and next season can bring in more alien recruits who want to help make their new home safe.
Kara already knows what it’s like to be an stranger in a strange land, and she has an emotional intelligence that would be perfect for fostering fledgling superheroes. Since leadership is a two-way street, this new plot would teach Kara to not waver on her convictions, how to bring out the strengths of her team, and how to recognize people’s limits. Maybe it’ll even teach her some limits of her own; a necessary lesson for all protagonists to learn.
13. ALLOW KARA TO MAKE MISTAKES
This is a problem that a lot of DC television shows have with their leading ladies. The male protagonists may fail in deeply profound ways, but it’s always in a way that propels the main story forward. Regrets are the soil where great character development grows. This ideology isn’t usually extended to their female characters.
Certainly Kara isn’t allowed to make mistakes like that. At the moment, her biggest regret is her actions under the influence of Red Kryptonite, and even then, she has a reasonable excuse for her behavior at the time. Out of everyone in the DC television line-up, someone as powerful as Kara needs to learn that she is not infallible. Next season, Kara needs to make some kind of life-altering, monumental mistake. It needs to be something that she cannot fix and she needs to live with the consequences. Kara needs to learn caution, if not for herself then for the sake of the planet she represents.
12. SANVERS: EXIT STAGE LEFT
Alex Danvers and Maggie Sawyer have found a welcoming place in the roomy gallery of LGBTQ+ relationships in comics. However, next season should see the pair part ways, at least for a while. At the end of the day, Maggie is still a supporting character to Alex’s development. It’s already been hinted that Maggie is commitment-phobic by ex-girlfriends, and Alex has a habit of devoting herself entirely to the few relationships she has.
Alex has deeply-ingrained abandonment issues, and a great way for her to confront and come to terms with them would be a break-up. It doesn’t have to be anyone’s fault, and Maggie doesn’t even necessarily have to leave the show entirely. Alex needs to learn how to let people go, and how to stand on her own two feet when they do.
11. CREATE AN EVIL ORGANIZATION WITH TEETH
Heroes are only as great as their opponents, and Kara needs a bigger one next season. Cadmus started out promising, but since it’s headed by Lillian Luthor, Cadmus feels more like the pet project of an irate billionaire than a terrorist network. Cadmus isn’t even showing up consistently during the season, so it’s hard to maintain tension from episode to episode.
If Kara is going to grow as a leader, then she needs an opponent that’s more of a moving target. Unraveling a season-long mystery wouldn’t be a bad start, since Kara has decided to become a journalist. Since an incarnation of Brainiac hasn’t been seen since “Smallville,” making him the villain could challenge both sides of Kara’s identity. He’s powerful enough to create an intricate plot for Kara to solve, and represent a genuine alien threat to challenge Kara’s work to de-stigmatize the alien population. Kara could also learn to think critically about Kryptonian culture and its pitfalls.
10. LENA NEEDS A PLOT
Katie McGrath’s performance as Lena Luthor has been another win for season two. She’s presented as someone genuinely trying to escape her family legacy, and Kara’s friendship with her has launched another fan-favorite relationship. Unfortunately, the name Luthor is an albatross around her neck and the neck of the show. She hasn’t been around enough to establish whether she’s a good guy going bad or an enemy in disguise.
Next season needs to decide the path she’s going down and give her momentum to go down that path. If Lena is destined for a tragic fall, then she needs to be involved in some morally-gray schemes. Even if she has good intentions, Lena shouldn’t have to rely on a rescue mission from Supergirl to save her from suspicion. If Lena is going to remain on the side of the angels, she needs to earn her stripes by making mistakes and coming out the other side as a stronger person.
9. FLY AWAY FROM CATCO
The CatCo set looks great, but Kara needs to spend less time there. CatCo served as a place for Kara to learn from the best in Calista Flockhart’s Cat Grant. Kara even got her first job as reporter there. Unfortunately, Kara isn’t allowing herself to be taught how to be a reporter because she has a feeling of security that feels unearned.
This feeling of security led to Kara being fired, and it’s time for her to stay that way. She needs to find a new paper where she can work her way up the hard way, and learn why the ethics of journalism she violated are not to be compromised. Kara could have a goal to work her way up to the alien beat, which would allow her to become another conduit between the alien community and humans. Every little bird needs to leave the nest sometime. Even Krpytonian ones.
8. KARA AS A REAL REPORTER
When Cat Grant left the show, it left Kara in somewhat of a lurch. She didn’t know what she wanted to do or become outside of being Cat’s assistant, and chose to be a reporter. The problem: Kara never figured out how to be one.
Kara has spent her entire tenure as a reporter disregarding protocol, learning style and questioning her supervisor at every turn. Not only is that a terrible way to learn the ropes for a job she had no training for, but also Kara is always treated as if she’s in the right. Believing she’s always right and not being particularly teachable is one of Kara’s biggest flaws.
Kara might be Supergirl, but she needs to learn how to take instruction and respect the expertise of her superiors. She needs to learn how to put in the work and not take the easy way out. A great arc for next season for Kara Danvers (rather than Supergirl) would be to understand that even if she disagrees with someone, they are still playing on the same team.
7. PICK A CENTRAL CONFLICT
Every story needs to decide if it’s character-driven or plot-driven. The former is preferred because it allows for characters to grow and develop over time in a way that avoids contrivance. “The Flash” is a good example of character-driven plot. Barry spent most of this season either picking up the pieces after Flashpoint, or working to prevent the future that is a direct result of his actions.
“Supergirl” really needs to start using character-driven plot. The past two seasons have relied on hostile visitors or Luthors to provide conflict divorced from anything Kara does. This makes Supergirl seem like a less-powerful player, when she should be dominating the board. Next season, Kara needs some kind of tangible goal that guides the conflict from episode to episode. She’ll make a bit of progress, then get knocked back a few steps while making more progress. This will keep the pace of each episode from meandering, and lessen the possibility of repetitiveness.
6. GIVE A WINN A WIN
Jeremy Jordan’s Winn Schott has been dreadfully underused this season, which really shouldn’t be happening now that he’s an agent of the DEO and partner to Guardian. One would think this would allow Winn to be closer to the conflict of each season, but instead he’s rarely seen.
Next season, Winn deserves a storyline which allows him to come into his own power. He’s already demonstrated to be incredibly skilled at developing weapons for the field, understanding alien languages and means of communication. Capitalize on this to create a concrete goal for Winn, and pair it with some kind of emotional goal. Maybe he goes undercover somewhere, or the Toymaker comes back and Winn is the only person who can defeat him.
Supporting characters exist to balance out the protagonist’s story and provide some variety from week to week. Winn Schott is an intriguing character who has more than deserved the screen time, rather than being a part of the background.
5. IN NEED OF SPACE
“Supergirl” has the unique opportunity of incorporating space travel and aliens into its narrative. The show doesn’t have to stay in a particular city the way that “The Flash” or “Arrow” does. Now that aliens and their presence on Earth is a major point of discourse, Supergirl seems like the perfect emissary between alien governments and Earth’s. She is a representative of a lost world with none of Kryptonian’s diplomatic baggage, but she is devoted to Earth because she lives there.
“Supergirl” has already demonstrated that the DEO has the ability to travel to distant planets, and space travel would be a great addition to Supergirl’s great mission. The time it would take to travel through space would also create conflict between the Supergirl and Kara Danvers identities. Perhaps Kara’s emotional journey for the season would be to learn how to reconcile these two identities in a way which she hasn’t been forced to previously.
4. DESPERATELY SEEKING MISS MARTIAN
M’gann M’orzz spent most of season two maintaining some kind of deception, so next season would be a perfect time to explore her role as the hero Miss Martian. Her tragic backstory as White Martian deserter quickly made her one of the most heroic characters on the show. Sharon Leal’s performance as M’gann has shown her to be gracious, strong, and deeply convicted to make up for the crimes of her past.
Exploring her redemption and relationship with J’onn J’onzz would be a great way to develop a story of two refugees from two sides of a war, slowly learning to reconcile. Some fans would even be excited if a romantic relationship developed between the two. Even if romance isn’t kindled, M’gann would make a great partner for Supergirl in the field. She could be someone who steadies Kara in her more impulsive moments, and someone who can discuss battle plans with Alex.
3. MISSING: JAMES OLSEN
If James Olsen is someone who’s supposed to become a superhero this season, he sure hasn’t been around a lot. In the past 16 episodes of “Supergirl,” Mehcad Brooks has only appeared in 14 of them, and often in a role that’s easily replaceable with a random DEO-agent bit actor. This shouldn’t be happening to somebody who is second-billed on a network television show.
Maybe fans can forgive how, after a year of build-up, the writers backtracked on the James/Kara romance with whiplash-inducing speed. Maybe fans can forgive how they replaced a healthy relationship based in mutual respect and friendship with one filled with constant conflict. But the writers should not force one of the most charismatic actors on their show into the background.
James Olsen has the perfect background, motivation, and ability to be a superhero. Yet somehow it has landed him stranded on some desert island miles away from the main plot, when James should right in the middle of the action. He deserves better than being allowed the occasional assist.
2. GIVE MON-EL A STORY
Mon-El is the biggest game-changer of the last season. His arrival in the pod signalled that “Supergirl” would be shifting its focus outward onto what it’s like to be an alien on Earth who’s not Kara. However, since Mon-El’s story has been anchored to Kara’s, every scene he’s in tends to drag down the show. Chris Wood gives a fine performance, and he’s got good chemistry with nearly everyone, but he hasn’t been given a consistent arc. Instead, he tends to go in repetitive cycles of disappointing Kara and then earning her trust back.
If Mon-El is going to stick around next season, his story needs to move away from Kara and establish an identity outside of her. This would allow Kara the space to have her own character development, and Mon-El gets a greater variety of scenes. Pairing him up with Guardian and Winn would be great start, especially since James Olsen is also trying to find a superhero identity outside of his Krpytonian friends.
1. PUMP THE BRAKES ON ROMANCE
“Supergirl” marketed itself on being a feminist story, first and foremost. It’s really time to get back to that. That being said, a feminist story doesn’t exclude a romantic subplot. However, it needs to stop being the biggest part of the story. Ever since Mon-El joined the team, the entire story has revolved around him learning to be a better hero. Part of that was his love story with Kara.
Next season needs to dial the romance way down. If Mon-El ends up becoming a series regular, then less screen time needs to be devoted to Kara’s relationship with him or they need to be broken up. Allowing Mon-El to stand on his own away from Kara would make the current, headache-inducing slow plot worth it. Take a page from the season one playbook. Devote a few scenes to flirting or emotional moments, but keep it as a subplot which builds to a greater conclusion.
Tell us in the comments if you have other changes you want to see made in the next season of “Supergirl!”